OCR now at six-year high of 2%

The Reserve Bank has announced another hike of the official cash rate, raising it by 50 basis points to a six-year high of 2%.

The increase is in line with expectations as New Zealand's central bank battles to get inflation, currently at a 30-year high of 6.9%, under control.

The RBNZ has signalled further rate rises would be needed to get inflation back to its target of about 2%. 

In a statement this afternoon, the RBNZ's Monetary Policy Committee said it sees the cash rate rising to at least 3.25% this year and it was "resolute in its commitment to ensure consumer price inflation returns to within the 1 to 3 per cent target range."

"A larger and earlier increase in the OCR reduces the risk of inflation becoming persistent, while also providing more policy flexibility ahead in light of the highly uncertain global economic environment," the committee said.

The economy had underlying strength but faced much uncertainty, cost pressures and strong headwinds, it said.

"Heightened global economic uncertainty and higher inflation are dampening global and domestic consumer confidence. Asset prices, in particular house prices, have also declined, reflecting in part higher mortgage interest rates and increased supply of housing."

The New Zealand dollar rallied sharply to US65c after the 2pm announcement from US64.33c prior.

Loan Market mortgage broker Bruce Patten told RNZ this morning that rate increases could be expected for another 12 to 18 months.

Once inflation was under control, rates would fall again "but that's probably a couple of years away".

In April, the Reserve Bank raised the OCR by 0.5 percent.

It is now at its highest level since mid-2016.

Photo: RNZ
Photo: RNZ

Reserve Bank statement

The Monetary Policy Committee today increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) to 2.0 percent. The Committee agreed it remains appropriate to continue to tighten monetary conditions at pace to maintain price stability and support maximum sustainable employment. The Committee is resolute in its commitment to ensure consumer price inflation returns to within the 1 to 3 percent target range.

Consistent with the economic outlook and risks ahead, monetary conditions need to act as a constraint on demand until there is a better match with New Zealand’s productive capacity. A larger and earlier increase in the OCR reduces the risk of inflation becoming persistent, while also providing more policy flexibility ahead in light of the highly uncertain global economic environment.

The level of global economic activity is generating rising inflation pressures, exacerbated by ongoing supply disruptions driven by both COVID-19 persistence and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The latter continues to cause very high prices for food and energy commodities.

The pace of global economic growth is slowing. The broad-based tightening in global monetary and financial conditions is acting to slow spending growth, accentuated by the high costs of basic food and energy staples. European geopolitical uncertainty is also weighing heavily on business confidence and investment intentions worldwide. Likewise, COVID-19 restrictions in significant regions of China are exacerbating supply chain disruptions and adding cost and complexity to trade.

In New Zealand, underlying strength remains in the economy, supported by a strong labour market, sound household balance sheets, continued fiscal support, and a strong terms of trade. The reduction in COVID-19 health-related restrictions is also enabling increased economic activity, including hospitality and tourism.

However, headwinds are strong. Heightened global economic uncertainty and higher inflation are dampening global and domestic consumer confidence. Asset prices, in particular house prices, have also declined, reflecting in part higher mortgage interest rates and increased supply of housing.

On balance, a broad range of indicators highlight that productive capacity constraints and ongoing inflation pressures remain prevalent. Employment remains above its maximum sustainable level, with labour shortages now the major constraint on production. The Reserve Bank’s core inflation measures are above 3 percent.

The Committee agreed to continue to lift the OCR at pace to a level that will confidently bring consumer price inflation to within the target range. The Committee viewed the projected path of the OCR as consistent with achieving its primary inflation and employment objectives without causing unnecessary instability in output, interest rates and the exchange rate. Once aggregate supply and demand are more in balance, the OCR can then return to a lower, more neutral, level.

- RNZ and ODT Online 

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